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Right now, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI)’s fifth Offshore Rescue Craft (ORC) is proceeding on the longest sea trip in the organization’s history, from Cape Town where the vessels are built to Richards Bay - Station 19 in KwaZulu-Natal. The NSRI is the only maritime rescue service operating in South African territorial waters and there’s a growing need to have modern rescue vessels such as the ORC.

Brett Ayres, Director of Rescue Services at the NSRI is happy to announce that the organization has added ORC number five to its fleet. “Rescue 19 will be able to cover the northern coastline of KZN up to the Mozambique Border. This is one of many reasons why this latest ORC went to Richards Bay,” he states.

The total distance the ORC is travelling to KZN is 1068 nautical miles which is equivalent to over 1900 KM and the crew are averaging at about 38KM an hour. The first stop was Mossel Bay to refuel and restock supplies. The strategic reason why the ORC is travelling at sea is because its much cheaper to take it this way rather than road freight.

“Preparing for a trip of this nature requires a lot of planning. One needs to do a full passage plan, as well as consider logistics, weather and sea conditions. A passage plan is a process where you consider all the hazards and plot a safe passage, with all the different bearing’s, speeds and fuel consumptions for each leg. You also must make sure that there is enough fuel on the vessel which requires a few stops along the way,” adds NSRI Training Manager Graeme Harding who’s the delivery skipper for the voyage.

Although most of the NSRI’s rescues are coastal and inshore, the coastline that the ORC will serve shares a boundary with Durban & Ballito stations at the Tugela River, which is the largest river in KZN. Ayres adds that there is a need for this vessel in the area because the Richards Bay rescue base supports a lot of commercial shipping as well as yacht traffic. The distances and local sea conditions of the area make it essential to have a class one boat.

After the first stop in Mossel Bay the ORC will stop at Gqeberha, followed by East London then Durban and will then complete its last leg to its destination in Richards Bay. Two of these legs are quite long, which include the leg from Cape Town to Mossel Bay which is 14 hours as is the one from East London to Durban.

Should anything go wrong there is a safety net around the coastline that the crew have considered. There is a passage plan left behind at the NSRI Volunteer Support Centre, where the location of the vessel is always known, and where all tracking systems are monitored – as is done for all NSRI vessels when they put to sea. The ORC is estimated to arrive Saturday afternoon at Richards Bay.

“We will now be able to see a vast improvement in our capability to deliver rescue services in the Northern parts of KZN. As Richards Bay is our most Northern class 1 station, they are located at an essential strategic location to cover our coastline. We now have two ORCs in the province – the other in our Durban rescue base, meaning KZN is now well covered – and that we can respond quickly and safely to a far larger coastal area. We will continue to do our job of saving lives on South African waters, and the ORC certainly makes this more effective,” concludes Brett.

Media Queries:

Contact: Kuhle Mkize

Email: kuhle@searescue.org.za | Cell: 066 099 5777

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